A recent Johns Hopkins study found that today’s kids are so inactive that by the time they reach 19 they have the activity level of 60-year-olds. I have a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal, “19 is the New 60,” looking at childhood sluggishness and making one blindingly simple suggestion. But first off:
Senior [Hopkins] author Vadim Zipunnikov said: ‘Activity levels at the end of adolescence were alarmingly low, and by age 19, they were comparable to 60-year-olds.
‘For school-age children, the primary window for activity was the afternoon between two and six P.M.
‘So the big question is how do we modify daily schedules, in schools for example, to be more conducive to increasing physical activity?’
This solution is also good for kids’ mental health. Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College and author of “Free to Learn,” says that as play has declined, kids have become more anxious and depressed.
…Mr. Gray makes a persuasive case that kids lose their “locus of control” when adults take over more of their time—driving them, teaching them, watching them. But during free play, the kids make the rules and decisions. There’s a strong connection between happiness and feeling in control of life.
Long story short: Adults should stop stealing away the time kids need to play. Give it back and they won’t become so old so young.